I have always asked myself some questions about my ancestors. What were sex workers doing during past struggles? Have they been eternal passive victims as we are often portrayed or have they been part of the social movements of the working class?
Among the women of the people of Paris who took the king from Versailles on the 5th October 1789, were there only servants and domestics or were there also sex workers?
Who were the women who led the riots for bread and were ready to do anything to feed their family?
Who were the women occupying public spaces and the streets during the revolutions of the nineteenth century?
Who were the women who alerted the Parisians in the middle of the night in the morning of 18th March 1871 which started the Commune?
Who were the spies who provided crucial information to the Resistance by sleeping with German officers?
(picture of Mata Hari, sex worker and spy during WWI)
Who were the transgender women who rioted in the Compton’s Cafetaria in 1966 San Francisco?
Who were the young queers and Trans who started the Stonewall riots in 1969?
Who were those people who felt they had nothing to lose and dared doing things that most people would have never done? Were there sex workers among them?
We need historian sex workers to answer these questions.
The sex worker movement is often said to start on the 2nd June 1975 when French sex workers occupied churches all over the country. Among them, Grisélidis Réal, was also called the revolutionary whore.
I believe sex workers have always been part of struggles and resistances.
We have power.
(This picture shows the occupation of the Holy church in London King’s Cross 1982 by the English Collective of Prostitutes)